A wonderful pudding from Jane Grigson — if I had to name my favourite pudding ever, this would be it, and virtually every guest who’s ever tried it has had seconds and begged for the recipe. One of the good things about it is that it doesn’t matter if the sponge is a bit heavy; as long as the pears are good and caramelised it will be simply wonderful! It also doesn’t matter if the pears aren’t very tasty.
90g (3 oz) butter, cut up
90g (3 oz) granulated sugar
2 tbsp syrup from a jar of preserved ginger
3 or 4 large firm pears
125g (4 oz) softened butter
125g (4 oz) caster sugar
100g (3 1/2 oz) self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
30g (1 oz) ground almonds
2 large eggs
3-4 tbsp ginger syrup as above
3-4 lumps preserved ginger
I use a deep, round Tefal (non-stick) cake tin (about 10 inch) for this; it works very well. Put it over a low heat with the butter, sugar and ginger syrup. Stir about to dissolve the sugar, and cook until the mixture is creamy-fawn and sticky; it will take a few minutes. Remove from the heat.
Peel, core, and thinly slice the pears, and arrange them in a sunflower pattern in the tin. Any left over can make a second layer, which doesn’t need to be neatly arranged.
Put all the cake ingredients except the ginger in a food processor and whiz till smooth (or beat with a wooden spoon). Chop the ginger roughly and stir it in. Spread this mixture over the pears, and bake at gas 5 (190C) for 45 minutes to 1 hour. The cake should be thoroughly cooked and well browned on top.
Take it out of the oven, loosen the edges with a palette knife, put a plate on top, and flip the whole thing over to turn it out. Serve hot, warm (best I think) or cold, with crème fraiche.